One of the most common myths of the Affordable Care Act is that President Obama was inaugurated with a mandate by the American people to reform health insurance. On election day 2008, health care ranked as the fourth most important issue, following the economy, terrorism, and even gas prices! Additionally, President Obama ran on a health care plan that did not have an individual mandate, and did not raise taxes on anyone. The plan he proposed was effectively ripped off from Hillary Clinton, and the very elements he campaigned against. Why was healthcare ranked as such a low priority? Because the overwhelming majority of people were happy with their insurance. Here is a preview from Unraveled:
Every year since 2001, Gallup has surveyed Americans on how they would rate the quality of their personal healthcare. Consistently, year after year, around 80% of respondents rated it as good or excellent. A February 2007 poll by CBS News found that 85% of people were satisfied with the quality of their own health insurance. A September 2009 Quinnipiac University poll found that 88% of respondents were satisfied with their coverage. A June 2009 survey by ABC News yielded an 81% satisfaction rate. Similarly, an August 2009 survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that 91% of the insured Americans rated their coverage as excellent or good. Among the insured, 67% were very satisfied with their choice of doctors, 66% were very satisfied with the quality of care, and 82% were at least somewhat satisfied with the amount they paid. For the most part, people liked their insurance and doctors.
So it isn’t surprising, at all, that health care was not a highly-ranked issue among registered voters. Eight years later, a Kaiser poll has found that health-care is still the eighth-ranked issue.
Despite the ongoing debate between Republican lawmakers and President Obama on the future of the 2010 health care law, the January Kaiser Health Tracking Poll finds the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is only one of many issues that may impact voting decisions, with nearly a quarter (23 percent) saying it’s extremely important, but only four percent choosing it as the MOST important issue. Across all issues included in the poll, terrorism and the economy/jobs are the top two issues for voters at this point in the election. Across parties, the ACA does not rank higher than fourth in what voters say will be most important.
Now what is the takeaway here. Some may say this suggests that repealing Obamacare is not a priority. I disagree. For the most part, people haven’t quite felt the brunt of the ACA, so it’s elimination would not have nearly the same effect on the electorate as many predict. Note that this is a survey of registered voters. As Chuck Schumer noted, those who stand to lose the most are not registered.